by Roberta Carasso
College Art Gallery, Orange County) Words such as "graceful,"
"delicate," and "ephemeral" immediately come
to mind when viewing Anne Mudge'' sculpture. Void of traditional
sculptural heft, these sus- pended works are evanescently lighter
than air, much like an exquisite, but short-lived natural form--a
thistle, or a delicate spider's web--yet powerful and robust.
Their distinct gossamer quality comes not only from the manner
in which Mudge manipulates natural and man-made materials--seeds,
fiber, cable, lead, wire, wax, and pigment--but also from a sculptural
intent that creates permanent forms with a transitory presence.
Coupled with a strong sense of organic structure, the work has
a striking beauty.
An essential influence on her art is that Mudge lives on a seed farm where her husband raises a wide variety of seeds for common, exotic, and rare plants. In this milieu, Mudge is entrenched in the marvels of nature and the process whereby a human being becomes Mother Nature's right-hand man. Consequently, the process of creation, and the myriad structural ways plants emerge and develop from seed, is prominently reflected in her intricate forms.
Congruence, for example is a simple construct but, as in all Mudge's art, it is given depth. Curvilinear wire is wrapped and woven with fiber, then covered with pigment and wax. Undulating filaments move gracefully, swaying, even shimmering in the light as they cast shadows that expand the form's scale. In Umbilical, using metal and hemp Mudge seems to create a three-dimensional line drawing. Sweeping lines converge with an open mass of wire, rendered much like graphic hatched lines, that link to an- other linear form. Or in Root, perhaps among her most subtle works, Mudge uses cable, fiber, and graphite, to render a quick sketch in-the-round. And in Inside Out light and shadows dominate. Made from music wire, fiber, and seed, graceful forms seem to become translucent as they melt into their surroundings. Needless to say, there is uniqueness to each of Mudge's sculptures.
Two noticeable three-dimensional characteristics found in Mudge's art are tension and density. Tension develops when one form acts on, supports, or stabilizes another form, much like muscles in a human arm, or plant stems supporting the weight of leaves. It is a natural consequence between forms and their capacity to play off each other. Despite her form's eloquent grace, tension is also present.
For this seemingly weightless work, "density" needs more explanation. Mudge titles her exhibition Slow Forms, not meaning that forms gyrate slowly with each air current, which they do, but rather that they are labor intensively made. Her sculptures are built slowly by an accumulation of countless small acts--looping, pulling, weaving, wrapping, tying, etc.--a devoted interplay between artist and art work, much like the workings of nature as organic structures mature. Mudge calls these accumulated acts "information loops." As the art is constructed it receives and sustains new forms of information, which, in turn transforms the work. Density, then, is increased mass acquired from each information loop.
Mudge believes that the vitality and eventual survival of things depends on attention to the importance of small acts. Hence, by tapping into nature's vast constructive repertoire, and her concern for forms built by a specific accumulation of information, her art, above all, has a sense of intimacy. Concretion is meticulously built from music wire, fiber and carbon. Innumerable strands are woven over, through, and from wires so as to evolve intricate organic forms. It summarizes much of Mudge's sculpture. It is thoughtfully made, sensitively executed, and has an elegant presence.